Survey in a War Zone: More than Half of Afghans See NATO as Occupiers
Fully 60 percent of Afghans fear that the country will descend into civil war once NATO forces leave, but over half see the Western alliance as occupiers. A new survey carried out be the Konrad Adenauer Foundation has found that the mood in Afghanistan is worsening.
The troops are there, according to the mission statement, to "provide a secure environment for sustainable stability." But 10 years after NATO entered Afghanistan to drive out al-Qaida and beat back the Taliban, a majority of the local population has come to see the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) as little more than occupiers.
Babak Khalatbari, head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation's Afghanistan office, said on Tuesday that the results were "a matter of concern."
The survey has been completed each year since 2008 and is carried out in conjunction with the National Centre for Policy Research at the University of Kabul. Some 5,000 Afghans were interviewed in five provinces in late September. Though the Konrad Adenauer Foundation warns that the poll is not strictly representative, the results are broadly consistent with the impression most in the West have about Afghanistan: The situation appears to be worsening.
Far from Subdued
"The survey results show that in Afghanistan, there appears to be an increasing amount of anxiety and fear rather than hope," Khalatbari said.
With a decade having elapsed since the US and NATO marched into Afghanistan in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, many in the West have begun to see the mission as a failure. Security in the country is perceived as fragile and the Taliban are far from subdued.
But even as Afghans have an increasingly negative view of NATO troops, their view of the Taliban is plummeting as well. In 2010, 74 percent of those surveyed were in favor of talks with the Islamists; this year, that number has dropped to 63 percent. Only 51 percent would be in favor of granting the Taliban a share of power in the country, down 10 percentage points from last year.
The survey likewise did not reflect well on Afghanistan's political leadership under President Hamid Karzai. Just 31 percent of those surveyed are pleased with the work of their government, down four percentage points from last year. In the capital Kabul, just 17 percent thought the government was doing a good job. Trust in state institutions is also abysmal. Only 28 percent of those surveyed had faith in the country's ministries and agencies.
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